The Sunday Morning Paper is a weekly feature where I share news that’s occurred within the country music industry over the past week and quote from any further pieces that interest me, and may interest you. Click on the hyperlinks provided at the end of each blurb to find out more.
Y’all like new music announcements? Because this week is full of them and not a whole lot else. I’m not complaining about that, mind you. Anyway, onward!
On the Horizon
New album releases:
- Soo Line Lions – Soo Line Lions
- The Steel Woods – All of Your Stones
- Dillon Carmichael – Hot Beer (EP)
- Alan Jackson – Where Have You Gone
- Cole Chaney – Mercy
- Allison Russell – Outside Child
- John Hiatt and Jerry Douglas – Leftover Feelings
- Blake Shelton – Body Language
- The Mavericks – En Español (Deluxe)
Impacting country radio:
- Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave”
- Tyler Rich, “Better Than You’re Used to”
- Blackberry Smoke and Warren Haynes, “All Rise Again”
- Flatland Cavalry, “Some Things Never Change”
- Rodney Crowell, “Something Has to Change”
- Summer Dean and Colter Wall, “You’re Lucky She’s Lonely”
- Cody Johnson and Willie Nelson, “Sad Songs and Waltzes”
- Maddie & Tae, “Mood Ring”
- The Mavericks, “Por Ti (Yo Quiero Ser)
- John R. Miller, “Shenandoah Shakedown”
- Joy Oladokun and Maren Morris, “Bigger Man”
- Allison Russell, “The Runner”
- Red Shahan, “Javelina”
- Brittney Spencer and Common Hymnal, “Whiskey Lows”
This will be a pretty straightforward week, folks. I have plans to cover the newest albums from Alan Jackson and the Steel Woods, plus Cole Chaney, if time allows! I am more concerned with getting that huge book project of mine prepared for launch, though … stay tuned!
Just the Facts, Jack
New music annoucements are abound from several artists, including The Mavericks (En Espanol (Deluxe) – May 21, Lavereda), Meghan Patrick (Heart On My Glass – June 25, Music Row), Flatland Cavalry (Welcome to Countryland – July 2, Music Row), John R. Miller (Depreciated – July 16, Bandcamp page), Rodney Crowell (Triage – July 23, Entertainment Focus), Charlie Parr (Last of the Better Days Ahead – July 30, American Songwriter), Son Volt (Electro Melodier – July 30, Rolling Stone), Jesse Daniel (Beyond These Walls – July 30, nothing confirmed yet, though information is out there … ), Connie Smith (The Cry of the Heart – August 20, Glide Magazine), and Summer Dean (Bad Romantic – August 27, Bandcamp page).
American Aquarium will make its Grand Ole Opry debut on July 13. (KOKE FM)
Linda Martell’s family has launched a GoFundMe campaign to fund a documentary detailing her story and career. Martell, in 1969, became the first Black female artist to crack the top 20 of Billboard’s country charts, and her campaign is designed to last at least six to nine months. For more information on how to contribute and donate, click here. For more background context, click the following hyperlink. (CMT)
I’ll be blunt with you all: I’m happy that live shows are back, but I don’t have the energy to keep up with every new tour announced, though there are some potentially good ones. What caught my eye was Kip Moore’s upcoming How High tour, which will not feature your average cookie-cutter radio C-listers as openers, but rather independent names like Gabe Lee and Triston Marez, as well as one of the better mainstream choices in Lainey Wilson. American Aquarium also has some cool openers for its upcoming tour in the aforementioned Lee and Emily Scott Robinson, among others, but it’s encouraging to see a mainstream artist like Moore acknowledge the wide talent pool out there in the greater country music world right now.
“What is the answer then, to hate? It’s not a trick question. Love! No not corny, heart shaped candy box of chocalates, a dozen red roses, lobster ravioli and a bottle of red wine kinda love … love in the form of respect, in the form of community, camaraderie, and the willingness/openness for basic communication … That basic standard of respect, one’s civil right in other words, has been devalued right before our eyes. In so many words, I’d like to discuss a small piece of that from a second-generation Taiwanese-Americana, Nashville son’s point of view.” – Gabe Lee, in a powerful letter written for Sounds Like Nashville that details his experience of descending from Taiwanese heritage and being born in the United States, posted in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander (APPI) Heritage Month. All roads, of course, eventually led to Nashville for Lee, who thus far has delivered two killer albums in 2019’s farmland and 2020’s Honky Tonk Hell. (Sounds Like Nashville)
You like year-end lists? Me, I like them and mid-year lists as well. I even like lists that go by specific quarters of the year, and Farce the Music has posted a nice list of author Trailer’s favorite albums of the year thus far. I know a lot of people have cited this as a down year for music – especially country music – but for one, I do think things are picking up, and I think discovery into new acts is key to to finding the good stuff this year, and Trailer’s list has plenty of it. (Farce the Music)
A win for the good people – Marcus K. Dowling, a journalist I’ve quoted several times through this feature, will be honored with the 2021 Rolling Stone Chet Flippo Award for Excellent in Country Music Journalism. (International Country Music)
“I don’t have to worry about coming up with something for radio. I can just do whatever I want to do. Songs that I feel like fans would like.” – Alan Jackson, who states in a recent interview with The Tennessean that he’s “half-retired” but still picking up “crazy songwriting ideas” from his kids. Jackson also says in the interview that he believes country music’s roots have largely faded away, which isn’t so wrong as it is … misguided, and something tells me Jackson is only in tune with what’s on country radio right now, which is a real shame. On a funnier yet kinda cringeworthy note, apparently the song “Back” was inspired by Justin Timberlake’s, you guessed it, “SexyBack,” only to say he’s “bringing country back.” On a much better note through that quote, it’s good to hear Jackson realize his radio days are behind him and that he’s free to make the music he wants. If only more artists realized that. (The Tennessean, by Matthew Leimkuehler)
“I didn’t realize how kind of perfect the sequencing is … Me and Rowdy had talked about it and wrote some stuff down, but we didn’t have that set until the last few days. And it was just a simple text back and forth: ‘What about this?’ ‘What about this?’ And that was it.” – The Steel Woods’ Wes Bayliss, in an interview with the Boot regarding the heartbreaking circumstances behind the band’s newest album, All of Your Stones, and how the band will push forward without Jason “Rowdy” Cope. (The Boot, by Angela Stefano)